The Story of Cavalleria Rusticana

The scene is a Sicilian village square on Easter morning in the late 19th century. At one side is the church and at the other is the inn and dwelling of Mamma Lucia.

1. Turiddu is heard singing "Oh, Lola, lovely as the spring's bright blooms," as the curtain rises. He has been in love with Lola, to whom he was engaged before he was conscripted into the army. The fickle Lola could not wait for him and wedded the prosperous carter Alfio, who frequently travels from fair to fair with his mules. When Turiddu returned from soldiering, he was crushed by Lola's betrayal and consoled himself with a village girl, Santuzza, who became his mistress and loved him passionately. She was excommunicated for her behavior and repudiated by the villagers. As a natural coquette, Lola became jealous of Santuzza and weary of Alfio, and so recaptured Turiddu to the dismay of Santuzza. Her honor lost, Santuzza can do nothing but weep while Lola and Turiddu go on making love to each other while Alfio is out of town.

2. In the opening scene, church bells ring and villagers in holiday attire gather in the church for mass and sing a hymn to spring. Santuzza arrives and approaches the tavern of Mamma Lucia, Turiddu's mother, and asks if she has seen Turiddu. Lucia thinks that he has gone to Francofonte to buy wine, but Santuzza says that some within the village saw him in town last night.

3. Alfio appears with his companions. His jolly song reveals not only his manly nature but also his happiness with his wife Lola and his joy in the vigorous life of a carter. Then he asks if Mamma Lucia has a rare old wine. She says that Turiddu has gone to buy plenty, but Alfio says he saw Turiddu lingering near his house this morning. Lucia is surprised, but Santuzza tells her to be quiet. Alfio and his companions enter the church, from where is heard the chorus singing "Queen of Heavens" and Hallelujahs.

4. Santuzza and Lucia remain outside the church, where Santuzza tells Lucia her whole sad story concerning Turiddu and Lola. Lucia is shocked and agrees to pray for Santuzza as she enters the church. Santuzza remains standing outside the church when Turiddu enters the square on his way to mass. She wants to speak with him, but he tries to avoid her and seeks his mother. She reproves him for lying that he had gone to Francofonte and tells him he was seen near Lola's house by her husband. He asks if that is how she rewards the love that he gave her, even if Alfio should kill him. She tries to get him to say he loves Lola, but he denies it. He refuses to be a slave to her jealousy.

5. Behind the scenes, we hear Lola singing a lighthearted ditty about a flower. As she enters, she pauses as she sees Turiddu and Santuzza, and then inquires if he has seen Alfio. Turiddu says that he himself just arrived in the piazza. Lola says Alfio must be at the forge, and she must not linger. She asks what function they were doing in the piazza. He says that Santuzza was telling him a story, at which Santuzza starts talking about Easter. Lola asks Santuzza if she is not going to mass. Santuzza says no, only those do not go who know they are not guilty. Lola responds with "I bow before you," to which Santuzza answers bitterly, "You speak well." Embarrassed by these exchanges, Turiddu tries to go away with Lola, who says ironically, "Stay with her." Santuzza asks him to stay because she wants to talk to him still. Lola mocks them saying that the Lord will assist them, and then she enters the church.

6. Turiddu and Santuzza quarrel in a duet in which Santuzza pleads with Turiddu to stay with her forever and love her again, while Turiddu asks why she follows him and spies on him even at the church door. He tells her to go forever, she wearies him, and in vain is repentance for all her offenses. He finally gets angry and throws her down to the ground. As he goes into the church, she hurls a curse at him and stays outside sobbing.

7. Alfio approaches. Santuzza tells him that his wife went to mass with Turiddu and proceeds to blurt out the whole story of Lola's unfaithfulness. At first he threatens her, not believing what she has said, but he is finally convinced. Then she is suddenly ashamed of what she has told him. He says it is they who should be ashamed, and he will have his revenge upon them. Santuzza, dazed by thoughts of the tragedy her jealousy may cause, leaves, and the square is deserted.

8. After the Intermezzo, people emerge from the church and assemble before Mamma Lucia's tavern. Turiddu is in high spirits, for Lola is with him and Santuzza is not there. He invites friends to enjoy his mother's wine. Alfio enters, and Turiddu offers him a glass, which is gruffly refused. Lola is disturbed at what is happening. Some of the women consult together and then ask Lola to go away with them. When asked, Alfio denies that he has anything to tell Turiddu. Turiddu then says he is at his service. The two embrace, and Turiddu bites Alfio's ear viciously, indicating a Sicilian challenge to a duel. Alfio accepts the challenge. Turiddu tells him that if he dies, he will leave behind poor Santuzza, who will plant a knife in Alfio's heart. Alfio says to do what you will, but Turiddu will find him in the orchard, to which he departs.

9. Mamma Lucia enters, and Turiddu tells her that he has been drinking too much and must leave her. Before he goes, he asks for her blessing like the blessing she gave when he became a soldier. He asks that, if he does not return, could she be a kindly mother to Santuzza, whom he had promised to lead to the altar. She asks why he is talking like this, and he blames the wine. He asks for forgiveness and one kiss and then another. Turiddu rushes off desperately, and Mamma Lucia follows for a few steps, shouting after him in despair. Santuzza enters and throws her arms around Mamma Lucia as the square begins to fill again with people. Excitement, agitation, and nervous expectancy fill the air. A murmur of voices is heard in the distance, and then a woman cries shrilly that Turiddu has been murdered. Santuzza gives an anguished shriek and collapses. Women rush to Mamma Lucia's side as she also reels and faints. The stupefied crowd looks on in horror.


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